Hour Of The Nightingale

Svart Records
Gothic Metal
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"All music has themes but metal is a genre which wears its heart on its sleeve. Thematics color everything in metal, from audience reception and marketing to the actual composition and execution of the music itself. It can affect production, tone, scales, and much more in an effort to align everything with a perceived image or to jar that image by deviating from the norm in just the right way. Take goth metal; a sub-section of doom, it relies on the theme of autumn, death, depression and nature for its impact. We haven’t even mentioned bands yet and album art, track names and that certain goth sound has already sprung into your mind. Sometimes, these themes become even more powerful and, by some twist of fate or by a pecuilar predestination, reflect in the musicians themselves: they might reflect the ideals of the music in their actions or in the facts of their lives.

And sometimes, that reflection has a bitter edge. Aleah Starbridge is such an unfortunate mirror; the vocalist has been an influential part of the goth/doom scene for ages, flitting around the edges of projects like Katatonia, Swallow the Sun and her own solo works and collaboration project as Trees of Eternity. Tragically, she passed away in April, leaving an unfinished album and a host of themes now all too painful to contemplate. An immensely talented vocalist, her words now echo on the last piece of work to ever bear her name, Hour of the Nightingale, and they transform the album into something more. The themes of death, loss and darkness ring all that more true around her singing and the accompanying instruments. It’s almost as if her own story amplifies that of the album.

The story’s makeup should be familiar to fans of the sub-genre. After all, Trees of Eternity are a super-group made up of members that basically birthed the scene: Juha Raivio (Swallow The Sun) play guitar, given her a backing role that’s among the staples of the sub-genre. It works in the background of Aleah’s vocals, punctuating the melodies with its own slow, mounrful progressions. On these duties he is joined by Fredrik Norrman (ex-Katatonia, October Tide), as leads and chords are exchanged behind the vocals. “Condemned to Silence” (which also features Mick Moss of Antimatter) is a good example of these dynamics. The guitars are split into two parts, as is traditional, which then pick up on different parts and notes in the dual vocal lines which make the track work.

The other motivating force behind the projects are the drums, populated by none other than Kai Hahto (Nightwish, Wintersun), a truly legendary name within the metal community. His work here is more restrained than what he usually does on the two projects mentioned above, naturally fitting himself to the more fragile and ethereal compositions which make up Trees of Eternity. So too Mattias Norrman (ex-Katatonia, October Tide), the last facet of the project, whose bass work mostly enriches and envelops the rest of the music. Together with the drums, his work gives the project its shell. Such is the case on “A Million Tears” for example, as he works in tandem with Hahto to give an outer casing to the slow and thoughtful track. Here, as is true throughout the rest of the album, Aleah takes the forefront, handling most of the weight behind the track. When her voice goes soft on the outro, the song becomes its namesake, drawing forth an intense and painful sorrow.

When we say this is true for the rest of the album, we mean it. Her voice, divorced from the heartbreaking circumstances of her life as it is, completely dominates this release. She was a capable and expressive vocalist, possessed of a rich and full voice. On this release it is used as the anchor around which the other instruments spin, a maelstrom of emotion that works together to enhance the overall experience. Musically, the album won’t knock you off your feet; it utilizes all the basic tools of goth metal and doubles down on their message and themes. However, especially when coupled with the circumstances surrounding it, Hour of the Nightingale has an undeniable power which perhaps stems from that very same simplicity. It’s all about sinking deeper into the autumnal mindset, drifting further into a melancholic, faintly sylvan state. For that journey, there is no psychopomp more fitting than Aleah Starbridge. Rest in peace." - Heavy Blog Is Heavy

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  • With the demise of After Forever, Epica has taken the throne as the kings (queens?) of beauty and the beast metal.
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  • "A very special semi-acoustic live set from this seminal gothic metal band. The album captures their favourite songs specially rearranged for this event, while also including reworked cover versions of songs by Slayer and Nick Cave, the latter featuring guest vocals from Tiamat's Johan Edlund."
  • "Allow yourself to be transported to another world by PHANTASMA - a project sprung from the collective energy of Georg Neuhauser (Serenity), Oliver Philipps (Everon) and Charlotte Wessels (Delain). The release features memorable songs and intense arrangements centered around included novella ‘The Deviant Hearts’.PHANTASMA was born from the longstanding ambition to create a story driven concept record of Georg Neuhauser, vocal force behind Tyrolean Symphonic Metal outfit Serenity. He found his partner in crime with multi-instrumentalist composer, producer and vocalist Oliver Philipps (Everon) who gladly embarked on this new mission that allowed him to reconnect with being a musician in the first place, as a welcome change from working for other bands, which he has done extensively over the years, providing the rich sound connoisseurs of the genre have come to expect from him. As Oliver worked with DELAIN since their debuting record, a request at Charlotte Wessels’ address was made to complete the dynamic trio of PHANTASMA. To introduce Charlotte Wessels to any connoisseur of Symphonic metal would be like carrying coals to Newcastle - she is, after all, since 2005 the vocal figurehead of Dutch grandees DELAIN. It is therefore not only surprising, but also gratifying that Charlotte now even found some leisure time, to lend not only her voice to PHANTASMA but also her debut novella ‘The Deviant Hearts - which was written especially for the project.With PHANTASMA she can let her beautiful and variable voice run free like the wind - sometimes tender like on “Runaway Grey”, plaintive on “Let It Die”, and the duet “The Lotus And The Willow” - makes Charlotte’s passion for Nick Cave abundantly clear, matching even the intensity of “Where The Wild Roses Grow”. Meanwhile Georg’s dedication for classic rock acts like Queen and Meatloaf shine through in tracks like “Crimson Course” and “Novaturient”. Giving a face to other characters in the story are noted guest vocalists, such as Tom Englund, who performs on title-track “The Deviant Hearts”, Cloe Lowery on the heart-wrenching ballad “Try” alongside Dennis Schunke, who can be heard also on the comforting “Carry Me Home”."